Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Growing in grace (1)

During his devotional time my husband received some words of instruction for the season we are living in. One of the things was: study and live grace. The Bible is full of scriptures on grace, so that will keep us busy for a while :) We also ordered some books about grace (Philip Yancey, Joseph Prince etc.) which we will read and discuss together. We furthermore decided to read and re-read the chapter I wrote about grace in my newest release Grace of Giving. I thought it would be helpful and inspirational to share parts of that grace chapter on this blog. Although I wrote it specifically on the subject of giving, it contains many nuggets applicable to our life in general. I can only hope it will be an encouragement to you. So here we go:

Chapter 6
The grace of giving

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor.
2 Corinthians 6:2 (NIV)

It is one thing to leave the way of the thief behind and another thing to become a true giver; to follow in Jesus’s footsteps and give it all you’ve got. It is one thing to say, “I do not steal,” but another thing to say, “I am a giver.” How can giving become a desire of our hearts?  How can giving become part of our new nature?

Let me ask you the following question: how can a sinner become righteous in God’s eyes? How can we, as human beings, share in God’s glory? One simple answer: grace. It is God’s grace that makes many things possible for mankind. Grace is a word that we don’t hear much outside the church, yet it is so powerful! Favor, mercy, or goodwill are more commonly used. The Penguin English Dictionary  describes grace as follows: supernatural power given by God to the soul to enable it to attain virtue and salvation. Grace is another one of God’s gifts to us! Grace is God’s free favor on our lives; we did not do anything to deserve it. When we receive that gift, we can start using it to overcome difficult situations. The dictionary says it is a supernatural power. The Bible explains more extensively what grace is and what it can do in our lives.

Jesus, for example, had God’s grace on his life. Luke 2:40 (NIV) talks about Jesus’s childhood: And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. Grace was upon him, that tells me grace is something extra, almost like a gift from God. God’s grace was upon Jesus when he was a child. While growing older, the grace of God was no longer just upon him, but it filled him! That tells me Jesus grew in grace; he became full of it! The opening chapter of John’s gospel contains the following statement in verse 14, The Word became a human being and, full of grace and truth, lived among us.

Now, God did not just reserve his grace for Jesus; he gave it also in abundance to the believers, starting off with the first disciples. Acts 4:33 (NIV) tells us that “much grace was upon them all” in the same way as it was in the beginning upon Jesus. However, the disciples grew in grace too. A couple of chapters later (Acts 6:8 NIV) the martyr Stephen for example is introduced as follows, Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. Grace was not just upon him, but it filled him!

Grace is so much more than a simple gift or a blessing; it is a power. God’s grace does not stop at our salvation; we can continue to live in it and grow in it. Once we become conscious of his grace, his undeserved favor in our lives, we will find out that it will help us conquer and control many difficult situations. As human beings, we have a tendency to depend on our own strength, to fight our battles all alone. We don’t have to do that because God’s grace is there to sustain us. We need to learn to be aware of his grace in our life, which will save us a lot of trouble because it is not a one-time moment of truth, it is an ongoing experience in our lives! 

14 comments:

  1. What a message. Thanks it delighted me! Some lyrics which are awesome:

    U2 Lyrics - Grace

    Grace
    She takes the blame
    She covers the shame
    Removes the stain
    It could be her name

    Grace
    It's a name for a girl
    It's also a thought that changed the world
    And when she walks on the street
    You can hear the strings
    Grace finds goodness in everything

    Grace, she's got the walk
    Not on a ramp or on chalk
    She's got the time to talk
    She travels outside of karma
    She travels outside of karma
    When she goes to work
    You can hear her strings
    Grace finds beauty in everything

    Grace, she carries a world on her hips
    No champagne flute for her lips
    No twirls or skips between her fingertips
    She carries a pearl in perfect condition

    What once was hurt
    What once was friction
    What left a mark
    No longer stings
    Because grace makes beauty
    Out of ugly things

    Grace makes beauty out of ugly things

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  2. Wow, thanks Arend-Jan, such awesome lyrics! Grace makes beauty out of ugly things... I love that!
    Thanks for adding this to my post, comments from the readers are often the finishing touch :)

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  3. I love this perspective on grace. I agree, it is an ongoing experience, something to walk in daily.
    Blessings,
    Karen

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  4. Yes Karen, an ongoing experience, it doesn't stop at our salvation, it continues, every day!
    Thanks for stopping by.

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  5. Hi Marja - I love your last paragraph. I know I tend to do everything I can in my own strength - and like you say, God's grace, undeserved, is available to us to sustain us. We can be so clueless sometimes. Great Post
    God bless
    Tracy

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  6. I never thought of Jesus growing in grace, but the Scripture does say that! Hey! Thanks for the wisdom, Marja.

    Jen

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  7. Hi Marja -

    Love the last paragraph. It's far more than endurance/unmerited favor. God's grace is His dynamic, enabling power to live for Him.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  8. Traci, I am thinking about that more and more, all my own effort is nothing without God's grace.

    Jeanette, Jesus had to grow in grace, that was a true revelation for me! If he had to, on this earth, why shouldn't I?

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  9. Thanks Susan, His enabling power... I like that too! He enables me, thta's a humbling thought! Have a great weekend!

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  10. That is so true what you're writing. God's grace is a power. I sometimes forget that, and it really makes my day to be reminded of it.
    -Thanks!

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  11. Thank YOU Arie, for visiting my blog. God's grace is a POWER and I am determined to learn more about it, because I need it every day!

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  12. Hi Marja,
    You asked me how to link a blog post to facebook. It is pretty easy.

    1. click on the title of the blog post. The url will then appear in web address. Copy that. Then go to the facebook page and click on "link." Paste the url.

    I am not very computer savvy . . . so hope that makes sense.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

    Fondly,
    Glenda

    Fondly,
    Glenda

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  13. I really liked your post on magazine reading Glenda, I re-posted it on Facebook :) Thanks for visiting my blog!

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  14. Amen and amen! Such wonderful words, Marja. To be filled continually with grace...oh, my!

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Thanks for your visit, it is my hope and prayer that this post was an encouragement to you! Feel free to leave a comment.